Islamic militants have attacked the Amenas natural gas field in southern Algeria and have taken at least eight people hostage, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The eight include British, Norwegian and Japanese nationals.
According to the article, the attack occurred at around 2:00 a.m., and the militants and their hostages have now been surrounded by Algerian army forces. The army is reportedly negotiating with the militants, presumably for the release of the hostages.
In addition to BP and Statoil, U.S. oil and gas firm Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) and Britain’s Gulf Keystone Petroleum also have operations in Algeria.
The French military invasion of neighboring Mali could have provided the trigger for the attack, according to French officials. BP and Statoil have confirmed that an incident occurred at the Amenas field, and the Norwegian company said that it employs fewer than 20 people at the site, of which about 10 are Norwegian nationals.
The impact on crude prices has so far been minimal. Brent crude is trading about 0.1% higher this morning, at $110.43 a barrel.